Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Help Wanted: Daddy/Daughter Playlist

Time to put on our thinking caps:

S. needs to compile a playlist of family-friendly songs for the DJ at the Cinderella Ball. "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman is the centerpiece of the evening and will be played at least twice to allow men with multiple daughters to dance with each one. Think Butterfly Kisses, It's a Wonderful World, My Father's Eyes, etc. Please post your suggestions on the comment page. She has 4 HOURS of air time to fill!

Other needful things: A number of corporate sponsorships have been received and more are needed in order to provide reduced-cost tickets for families who would benefit from them and maximize the benefit to Shaohannah's Hope.

Also, gently-used formal dresses could be donated to outfit some of these princesses. Again, post on the comment page if you wish to help! Thank You!!

Cinderella Ball Update

It's happening!! The ball invitations have been sent out and requests for more of them to be given to friends have been rolling in! S. has been in touch with radio and newspaper people who have offered to help spread the word. Next target: cable TV.
Little girls and big girls are all a-twitter and we're getting word that a number of daddies are sharpening their (in some cases non-existent) dancing skills.
And this will bless your heart: S. and I did our very best to be sensitive about the fact that a number of girls in our midst do not have a Daddy who is willing or able to attend the Ball. Invitations were sent to those families ahead of all of the others when possible and with a note that reads:
Understanding that not all Daddies
will be able to attend the Cinderella Ball,
girls are encouraged to honor a special man in their lives
by inviting him to be their escort for the evening.
Likewise, if a gentleman would like to
escort a girl in such circumstances
he is welcome to share an invitation with her family.
Do you know that to our knowledge, not one girl for whom we had a concern is lacking for an escort? Uncles, Grandpas, and precious friends have assumed the honor of an invitation to stand in the role of a father for an evening. What a beautiful thing. Worth dancing about!

Monday, September 22, 2008

You Did WHAT?!?! No You Didn't!!!

Oh yes I DID and I have pictures to prove it!I had a blast driving our two teenagers and some of their friends an hour and a half away to a concert at Calvary Chapel of Souderton, PA. One of the 3 bands featured was Tenth Avenue North, whose music we discovered last spring. Their latest CD became the soundtrack to our summer in the minivan. Even the 3-year-old belts out "You say let it go....".

While the kids were all in the concert hall listening to Vota, I did the boldest thing I've done, well, this week: I stalked an official-looking photographer guy and asked him if there was anyway I could go back stage and get a picture with the Tenth Avenue North guys for my blog without the kids knowing so I could blow their minds when I posted it. That official looking guy took me to an un-official looking guy who totally "got" what I was trying to pull off. I thought there might be some kind of security checkpoints, but apparently they don't consider you a threat if you look old enough to be the mother of the band members. So I found my way through a labyrinth of hallways and quickly explained my mission to Mike, Jeff, and Jason. They graciously smiled for the picture and didn't even act like I was weird. So kind.

I am a terrrible liar, so at intermission when the kids asked where I had been I non-chalantly said, "Oh, you know, just hanging out backstage with the band." Tee hee hee.

I hope I embarrass my kids just enough to be fun, but not too much; and as someone at the merch table at the concert pointed out, I hope I don't spoil the image of Tenth Avenue North...I'm not exactly in their demographic! Great guys, good music, and fantastic lyrics! Oh, and they need a bus. Let's all pray for a cheap bus.

A Fine Sunday

M. is a motorcycle man. Always has been. He loves the noise, the chrome, the speed. So yesterday when I sat in our ABF class at church and I heard a familiar rumbling outside, I flew to M.'s Sunday School classroom and excused him so that we could get outside just in time to see what has become an annual event:


ABOUT 1000 Motorcycles!!!

Motorcycle after motorcycle after motorcycle!

I don't know what the official event is, but this is the 3rd year that I can remember that hundreds of bikers have passed by our church. They sound like a jet plane landing nearby and two years ago it coincided with the sermon. Pretty funny.

M. waved with great enthusiasm to the bikers and most of them beeped and waved. He begged me to go get all of his other Sunday School friends so they could wave too. I decided not to, and wondered what underlaying lessons I am teaching my boy; that Sunday School attendance is imperative, unless of course there is a motorcycle parade? Hopefully it is to fully enjoy those extraordinary moments that sneak up on us and thank the Lord for simple joys.

A Fine Saturday

Some days are just blissful. The Banker was home except for a quick trip to the mall with S. and I was home except for some early morning yardsaling. Kids running in and out and minimal cooking. Grilled cheese with Jersey tomatoes.

Yard sales fascinate me. They are such a social phenomenon, I think. We collect belongings along our way and at varying times we assemble them on our front lawns for 5-10% of their original retail value.
collection of vintage doilies and baby booties

As an avid people-watcher, I love to watch the seasons of life that are represented in the odd lots...baby gear, cast-off shower gifts, obsolete electronics, disregarded doilies, out-grown or out-of-style clothes.

male and female turkey salt shakers and planter

I am amused by the ones that have exorbitant price tags, as if the owner is in denial of the fact that they have carried all of the wares out onto their front lawn on the way to the inevitable curbside or Goodwill bin. I am touched by the ones conducted by loved ones at an estate sale who tell me fond stories of the memories attached to the items I am buying.
assorted vintage pyrex
neat-o picture frame

I find a false sense of security in thinking that our economy can only be so bad if we have the ability to manufacture, import, distribute, advertise, purchase, consume, and dispense of all of this marginal stuff.

thermos like my grandpop's, pitcher like my grandmom's

victorian lady's capelet
And the people who attend them. Aggressive dealers and ebayers, hobbyists, migrant workers, seniors, and pleasure-seekers like me.

handmade quilt

butterfly quilt

chenille bedspread
I'm thankful that the kinds of material things I most enjoy are pretty readily available for pennies on sunshiney autumn mornings. And thankful for a dear husband who smiles at my finds just because he knows they delight me.


Our first chance to attend one of D.'s soccer games. Loving the crisp autumn weather and golden sunshine. Go team!!

His biggest die-hard fan tried to stay awake for the big game.

Sorting buttons during breaks. The shadow is that of his sister, snapping other shots of the game for me.


I Think Not!!
I am not reading any mystical meaning into the funny things that happen to me. I just try to enjoy them along the way.
My daughter rolled her eyes at me again. This time it was because I sort of screamed in the parking lot at Sam's Club. You see, we were leaving our car and I was talking about wanting to go back to Arizona sometime. Don't you know that I glanced down just then and laid my eyes on an Arizona license plate?! It gave me a bit of a start, because it was such a strange feeling to say a random word and simultaneously read it unexpectedly. I felt obligated to take a picture of it, with her concealing the poor car-owner's identity, of course. Sometimes I wonder, is this normal? My daughter doesn't think so, but she tolerates me anyway. Thanks, S., I love you for that a bizillion other reasons!

Wanted: Dead or Alive

I considered titling this post, "You Might Be A Homeschooler If...", but considering the universally curious nature of boys, I thought that might be too narrow. I am not sure what has become of me, but I found myself pulling a wagon with two of my guys and scooping up fresh road kill to be taken home for a practice skinning with the new pocketknife received by our most recent birthday boy. (Don't worry, he is forbidden to carry it on his person and unless it is in use under supervision, it stays in Dad's custody.) So we carted off a ten pound groundhog after I made sure he was not just "playing" dead. If he had jumped back to life when I poked him with my pitch fork I really don't think I could have ever returned to my right mind!

This is just one of our latest captures, and most of our catches benefit the captive's health or at worst they are released after a little while, following a thorough observation.

Caterpillar season is a big deal around here, and currently a baby bunny is being nursed back to health. Frogs in the pool are fine, and turtles are welcome to board overnight, but snakes are absolutely banned under any circumstances, no ifs, ands or buts!! We did pass a garter snake around among friends at the park after someone accidentally ran over it with their bike tire.

There is just something about becoming the mother of four boys that changes a girl. It concerns me that my heart actually skips a beat when the Cabela's catalog arrives.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Announcing the Father-Daughter Cinderella Ball

Our daughter S. has begun something beautiful!! Through one of those divine, one-thing- just- lead- to- another processes, she is boldly coordinating a Father-Daughter Cinderella Ball for this November 15th at the opulent Grand Ballroom at Adelphia.

In the last 3 weeks she has booked the ballroom which can seat 500, designed the invitations, and pursued corporate sponsors.

Today the 700 invitations were picked up from the printer and our dining room is now an assembly line manned by kids of all ages....boys even!! Her goal is to get the invites into the hands of as many families as possible in the next week.

Beyond the obvious blessings that could come as a result of daddies and their girls spending a fairy-tale evening together, S. has established that proceeds from the ball will benefit Shaohannah's Hope to help in removing the financial obstacles faced by families who are ready to adopt. Fittingly, the centerpiece of the evening will be Steven Curtis Chapman's song Cinderella (click on the "play video" box to hear the song) , written for his adopted daughters Shaohannah, Stevie Joy, and Maria.

Please pray for the many details that must be attended to by our dear girl. Her hope is to bless others through this endeavor. We can only imagine what can be accomplished by God's grace. Perhaps some precious child somewhere out there may find their way Home. Oh, let it be!

Stay tuned for regular updates as the ball preparations progress!

Our overnight guests gave their help in preparing the invitations for post. Only 550 to go!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Missing Mildred

A few months back I spent part of an afternoon with an old friend. I didn't know it would be our very last visit this side of eternity. I met Mildred in her thrift shop about 15 years ago when we had just one car and one baby. We lived outside of a small town, a hamlet, I guess you could call it. Once a week or so baby S. and I, and soon her first brother would go for a walk uptown with our double stroller and go window shopping. The library, the children's shop, the hobby store, the news agency.
I don't know how I came to turn down the alley by the news agency once, but it was down that alley that I discovered the Sonshine Thrift Shop and sweet Mildred. In an old storefront with deep bay windows Mildred displayed rows of shoes and knick-knacks accented with seasonal decorations. The store itself smelled of stale laundry detergent and the kerosene heater that kept her warm in chilly weather. The racks were filled to capacity and Mildred knew were each item was, because she had stocked most of the donations of used items which people regularly left on the front step.
Mildred always took an interest in the children and knew that I had an affinity for vintage fabrics and antiques. Whenever we stopped she had recommendations for us from among her inventory. Her work was done do benefit a charity for terminally ill children. It seems to me that she made reference to having lost a child herself, and I regret that I can't remember more details on that little one.
Most of Mildred's life was centered in that small town, providing for others in one way or another in a very quiet way. As more babies came along and we moved a bit further outside of town, my visits became less frequent, but I was always certain that when I did make a point to stop in, Mildred would be there. She was a fixture.
This past spring I was procrastinating in getting ready for a trip to Ireland and decided to rebel against the urgency of my to-do list and take a detour to see Mildred. I think it was the only time I had been in sans children. We had our longest conversation, about my life and hers. At 93, she needed help from a neighbor to get to the shop in the morning. She tended the shop until he returned at the end of the day to take her home. The merchandise was a little less organized than in the past, but she pointed the way for me to find some fabric that she thought I would like.
I left her that day with some sewing notions and vintage patterns and a recipe for chocolate eclair cake and a feeling that I had just revisited a much simpler time in my life. I was refreshed and ready to prepare for a blessed but hectic itinerary overseas. I thanked my Lord for the dear faithful ladies who are my heroes, quietly doing good and serving selflessly for years and years. So many of them have gone on now, but I still have imagined conversations with Alice, Violet, Elsie, Lou-Lou, Millie, and Mildred, giving them updates and trying to guess what their advice to me would be in the new seasons of my life.
Yesterday I took another turn down the alley and gasped when I saw the empty storefront with the "For Rent" sign in the window. A quick drive to Mildred's house and a conversation with her neighbor confirmed that she was truly gone. Her husband went on ahead of her years ago and she has no descendants.
An ache in my heart reminded me that a faithful friend, that is, a friend with faith, is invaluable. It takes a long time to grow old friends and seasoned saints must persevere through many trials to achieve the kind of gentle spirit that I have admired in these dear ones, my Titus 2 women.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Titus 2:3-5
Thank you, Mildred!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Their Comely Colleagues

The Banker brought home a vintage 1961 issue of The New Jersey State Safe Deposit Association quarterly magazine The Time Lock. Some of the old ads are so charming. One article in particular was so politically incorrect that it is just adorable. At the same time it reveals some timeless insights. Can you even imagine this getting published today? Read On:

Why Are Gals Suited To Banking Careers?

by Joy Miller

AP Women's editor

Since it's generously conceded women control about 70% of the nation's wealth, it seems only fair that a majority of bank employees should be women too.

They would take a personal interest, so to speak.

Not too long ago banks wouldn't hire women. As recently as 1940, men outnumbered their COMELY COLLEAGUES in the banking business three to one. But word finally got around that WOMEN AND WAMPUM HAVE A NATURAL AFFINITY, and now it's ladies, two to one.

THE GIRLS are good standing in the higher circles. too. There are 160 LADY bank presidents across the country, and one in ten bank executives is a woman.

There's no doubt banking is now a woman's field. And it has no greater champion than Mona Reid Brice...of National Bank of Commerce...she thinks women are admirably suited for banking today because they are easier socially and have more equanimity in surprise situations(there are other surprise situations in a bank than holdups).

"Independent studies have shown," Mrs. Brice points out with pride, "that women have more patience, and a penchant for detail, deductive reasoning and analysis. That's why banks are using more use of women. A sympathetic, attractive can explain to a man, for example, just why his bank book doesn't balance and at the same time keep him from feeling stupid."


By the way, "Equinimity in surprise situations" and social ease? Those sound like the characteristics of a great V.P. candidate. Go Sarah.

A Useful Skill

I walked into our bedroom last night to see this funny scene...The Banker trying to teach S. and D. how to tie a necktie. They looked like three birds sitting on a wire. Why our daughter joined in on the lesson I don't know, but I'm sure it is a very useful skill, one which I have never acquired.
D. is required to where a necktie now that he is in high school, too. This first-day-of-school shot gets me because as much I stare at it all I can see is this pair as preschoolers with their character backpacks, setting out for our homeschool co-op. I just blinked and THIS happened!
Is there anything much more priceless than a great Dad?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Speed Racer Must Have Had A Prayin' Mama

Last weekend we spontaneously invited our good friends, the J's to join us for an afternoon at the new Millville Motorsports Park. It was our first exposure to the world of auto racing and we were very impressed by the obvious devotion of the loyal fans there, braving the August heat and sun to watch their drivers whizzing by at ridiculous speeds. We took seats behind the pit-crew area and marvelled at the precision and technology involved. All in all a fun time. Until.
Our boys have been friends with the J's two boys for years and they all enjoy being BOYS. Weapons and extreme sports usually seem to get worked into their conversations. Much testosterone among them.
So it seemed like the perfect idea to take the three eldest; our D. and their two, over to the motorcart track for some racing of their own. These are no kiddie cars, mind you, they can top 50mph. My dear friend Mrs. J. and I admired our fine young men in their jumpsuits and insisted upon a photo shoot before they headed out to the track.
All was going well until one of the identical helmeted racers spun off the track and took a header into the guardrail dozens of yards away. Dads ran to the scene while Moms prayed. Thank The Lord that the younger J. was fine, though his motorcart took a beating! Bent the steering wheel evn! Younger siblings were very impressed by the obligatory ambulance ride. I did tell the poor accident victim that I would not be posting any post-crash shots of him.
Earlier in the afternoon Mrs. J. and I were citing the merits of the Civil Air Patrol which has a local squadron for guys of this age, but perhaps we need to recover from last weekend's adventure before we're ready to see them airborne! Thank you Jesus for angels working overtime!

And So It Goes- Summer 2008

It happened. Again. I blinked and another summer flew by. And once again I begin September convinced that THIS was indeed my very favorite summer ever. It was not our most eventful summer, but it was among the sweetest and most restful that I recall and I know for sure that I made a concerted effort to savor those days which were relaxed and unstructured. This was quite likely our last summer without the added scheduling of summer jobs for our teens. I just loved having the whole brood home with the exception of a couple of stints at camp and the time we spent immersed in the blessing of our VBS ministry.
I am already hearing aspirations of employment and far-flung mission trips for next year. Couple that with my own penchant for road trips and other explorations, and my suspicion that this may be our last homey summer for a while. So glad that my man is more of a homebody and gives me a sense of being anchored.
I think I am allergic to changes of season, both figuratively and literally. I'm comforted by the observation that I perennially label my current season as my favorite. It's just the change itself that I loathe; the consciousness of it I guess. Once the in-between times have passed I settle in just fine and admire the unchangingness of the One I worship.
That is what I will ponder perhaps tomorrow as I hose off the baby pool one last time and clip back the irises.